Lincoln, NE-- Members of the Southeast Rural Fire Department came to court Thursday afternoon for closure and justice. Instead, they’ll have to wait two more weeks to find out what happens to their former fire chief.
Court documents show former Fire Chief John Porter and prosecutors have a plea deal, but Thursday, Porter wasn’t in court. Documents show Porter asked the judge for more time to pay the restitution.
Members of the S.E Rural Fire Department said they hope that Porter will eventually serve time for the felony charges of theft by deception of more than $1,500.
"The money that he used has prevented us and board of directors from buying equipment and paying bills without going into debt," said Steve Schneider of the S.E. Rural Fire Department. "It's public money."
Prosecutors say the 46-year-old took money from the S.E. Rural Fire Department from 2012 to 2013. Investigators said porter used the money to purchase food, electronics, and even get a tattoo.
“He needs to be sent to jail, do some time, and be made an example of,” said Rick Pickel from S.E Fire. “The guy's done it too many times, to too many other people, and this time he needs to do some time.”
Rick Pickel says he’s known Porter since elementary school, and said when he and others found out that there wouldn’t be a plea deal, they weren’t surprised.
Records show that Porter’s punishment for the crime would be a minimum of one year in prison, a maximum of twenty years, or a twenty-five thousand dollar fine.
The fire department says they’ve moved forward, but still want closure. They hope the community will regain their trust.
"We just hope it doesn't impact the community,” Fire Captain, Richard Hanson said. “That they won’t trust or support their local fire rescue departments any more."
10/11 reached out to Potter’s attorney Thursday and still waiting for a response.
Porter is expected to be back in court on March 20.